Hello there, mama to be! Listen. I know you’re brimming with a mixture of fear and excitement at this miraculous life milestone, and why shouldn’t you be? This is huge (and that wasn’t a smart remark about your expanding waistline). I also know you don’t want any unsolicited advice, except when you do and take to Google to try to get the answers. That’s where I come in.
As a veteran pregger (3 makes me a veteran, right?), I’ve got some knowledge to drop on yo knocked up asses based on 23 months and counting of pregnancy thus far (not in the same pregnancy, of course; that would just be weird, not to mention medically concerning). And while every woman and every pregnancy is different (trust me), I’m guessing there are some recommendations in here that might prove useful to you in your first pregnancy.
So buckle up and prepare to be schooled on this pregnancy advice for first timers. It’s my pleasure, really.
Lesson #1: Get off Google. It’s nearly impossible not to want to look up every damn symptom you think you have or see exactly what stage of development your baby is undergoing right this second, but Christ in a cradle, you’ll drive yourself berserk with this constant interneting, not to mention convince yourself you have some malady unique to only two pregnant women ever in the history of people.
Sign up for those weekly pregnancy updates and join just one forum or mom group if you must, but for the love of all that is holy, give it a rest after that. Nothing good can ever come from such demented obsession. It’ll turn you into a certifiable lunatic, I swear. A lunatic. And that’s saying something for somebody whose hormones already make her a crazy person.
Info #2: Using scented detergent or standing in the same building as a running microwave is not going to kill your baby. Promise.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I got sucked into the fear mongering littering the internets in my first pregnancy. I was convinced my baby would spontaneously contract autism if I used regular Tide or would come out radioactive if I stood within 100 feet of an operating microwave.
I inadvertently did both, and Alister, now 6, neither spontaneously contracted what I now know is a genetic condition unrelated to hygiene products nor came out glowing. So while it’s always a good idea to play it safe and stay away from potentially hazardous chemicals and machinery, occasional use of doctor-approved household products isn’t going to turn your progeny into an alien sub-species. For reals.
Morsel #3: Nobody else thinks you smell as disgusting as you think you smell. I mean, we both know you smell disgusting. Excessive perspiration in places you didn’t even know were porous and mudslide-like vaginal discharge will do that to a person. But unless you’re getting up close and personal with others (sorry, spouses and partners) and as long as you’re diligent about washing yourself with mild soap on the daily, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about offending the nostrils of coworkers and fellow public transit patrons, you grotesquely odorous beast, you.
Advice #4: If someone tells you you’ve got that pregnancy glow, go wash your face immediately. I don’t know who came up with these pregnancy-isms, but they’re total bullshit, so don’t fall for them. You’re not glowing; you’re greazy. That’s because pregnancy can turn you back into a hormonal 15 year old, rendering your hair and skin oily and prone to breakouts.
I’m not saying you don’t look good pregnant because you do. There is something about a pregnant woman that just exudes health and beauty and nubility. But there are also some unfortunate side effects of that display of fertility — blotchy, pimply, and sometimes slickery side effects, which means if you’re one of the unfortunate members of the I’m-Not-Really-Glowing-I’m-Slimy Club (of which I’m the president), you’re gonna have to rethink your whole skin care regimen.
Suggestion #5: Cool it on the carbs. Some people (read: me) take pregnancy as an excuse to indulge in all the foods they wouldn’t otherwise allow themselves to eat. Other people (also read: me) find the only cure for morning sickness is constantly indulging in those foods they wouldn’t otherwise allow themselves to eat. These people (again, read: me) then go on to gain 80 bajillion pounds more than the recommended value by month 9.
It’s not fun, ballooning out to 3 times your normal size. Not fun at all, not to mention extremely uncomfortable and potentially unhealthy for the developing baby. And though I’ve learned I’m destined to blow up like a puffer fish regardless of whether I pig out or try to eat relatively conservatively, I’ve determined being somewhat careful about what I shove down my gullet while still allowing myself some leniency at least makes me feel better about gaining over half my pre-pregnancy body weight in a few short months.
Just some food for thought there, ladies (pun ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY intended).
Knowledge #6: All talk of avoiding a 9 month food bender aside, you’re gonna gain weight, so best come to terms with it now. Unless you’re one of those annoying skinny bitches who never swells up, maintains a thigh gap, and looks like she’s done nothing more than shove a basketball inside her disgustingly cute, not-maternity-looking tank top or sundress (we collectively hate you, by the way), prepare for expansion in places you didn’t even know could still grow (like your feet; I’m not even kidding right now).
I spent the better part of my first pregnancy completely depressed about the cellulite collecting on my arms and calves (seriously, why does that fucking happen?) to the point where I pretty much hated every inch of my squishy exterior. What a waste of time and energy that was, because even though you can never “get your pre-pregnancy body back,” you can get close by getting healthy and fit again with diet and exercise (yes, I’m sorry to say, but you do have to diet and exercise), and that’s pretty great news if you ask me.
So fret not, chicas. Try to be as healthy as possible while pregnant, but don’t beat yourselves up if that cheesecake settles on your ass cheeks. It doesn’t have to be forever.
Recommendation #7: Prepare to purchase 2 sets of maternity clothes. Maternity clothes shopping is confusing at best. And though we’ve come a long way as far as pregnancy fashion is concerned, it’s still hard to make a beach ball look flattering.
One mistake I made my first time around the pregnancy block was expecting that the maternity clothes I purchased in the second trimester would fit by the end of the third. In my second pregnancy, I tried to compensate for this mistake by buying clothes that were slightly too big in the hopes they’d last all the way to the end (which, despite my best efforts, they still didn’t). Both times, I wound up looking ridiculous — either like a fat man in a little coat by the end of my pregnancy or like I was attempting to pass off window treatments as a dress in the middle.
This time around, I’ve got a set of clothes that fit in the first half of my pregnancy and will get more when I outgrow them in the second half, and I’ve attempted not to spend a fortune by borrowing some clothing from friends and by purchasing items that can be mixed, matched, and layered, even with non-maternity sweaters and leggings. It may seem excessive to purchase or borrow two separate wardrobes, but it’s totally worth it.
Think of it like this: If you have to look like Shamu, my sisters, at least look like you’re swimming down the runway while you’re doing it.
Proposal #8: Don’t be afraid to do the sex. Unless you’ve got a unique medical condition or are under strict doctor’s orders to abstain, you can do the sex like you normally would. Despite what you or your partner may think, you’re not going to gouge the baby’s eye out with a penis poke or turn him into a sexual deviant or anything by doing so. Really. You’re not.
It’s understandable not to want to get busy if you’re suffering from morning sickness or achy joints, but if you’re avoiding it because you feel about as sexy as a bouncing ball of blubber, try to get past it. I felt disgusting in my first and second pregnancies and still do in this one, but I’ve decided I just don’t give a shit anymore. This is nothing compared to the state your spouse or partner will see you in during and after childbirth (sweet Jesus, let’s not even go there right now), and amazingly, they’re still going to like you even after all that, so don’t let gaining a few pounds stop you from enjoying your life. Bouncing balls of blubber are not without their merits, after all.
Tidbit #9: Speaking of sex, start doing those Kegels now. I’m sure you’ve come across the old do-your-Kegels advice already on the pregnancy sites and forums you’ve been stalking since those two pink lines indicated your life was about to change forever, and I’m sure you’ve been meaning to get to them. I mean, you have time, right?
No. The answer is you do not have time. You should seriously start doing those bitches now. As in while you’re reading this. I didn’t and found myself scrambling to do them in the last couple weeks of my first pregnancy in a desperate, panic-stricken attempt to thwart my vagina’s impending blowout, and let me tell you, trying to cram 9 months worth of Kegels into a couple short weeks is exhausting, you guys. I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle. A vagina muscle.
I didn’t wind up needing my Kegels (thank God!) because I had an emergency c-section (not thank God), but better safe than sorry. Nobody likes a blown out vagina, amiright?!
Tip #10: Resist the urge to punch everyone who offers you advice in the throat. This isn’t just in the interest of my own self-preservation here. Everyone who’s even thought about being pregnant at one point in their lives is going to offer you advice and commentary about pregnancy and child rearing from the moment you announce you’re with child until the day you die, the most odd of these offenders being middle-aged men who love to comment on your physique and what you should be eating/doing.
Try to either grit and bear it or politely tell them you’re not in the market for smartassery. You can’t afford an assault charge right now. Prison isn’t kind to pregnant women.
What other advice would you offer first timers?